Most of our lives, we are told that the path to happiness is through success at school, getting good grades in college, beating others to a perfect job and so forth. An obstinate link between these notions of success and happiness is set in our minds and we find ourselves petrified of colouring outside the lines.
What is success? A good number of people perceive it as a goal, a destination.
Success is being able to find the time for all that is close to your heart. It is the ability to say ‘no’ to those that don’t deserve your attention. It is the power to exercise a choice. Success in life is about not having to compromise and gaining the wisdom to choose what is right for you.
We are regressing to a culture that believes in over-criticising, over-achieving and left with no hope of appreciating the finer things in life. The rush to compete, to be better than the next person and the greed and gluttony sold to us as ‘measures of success’ does not sanction us the time to pause and reflect about where we are going. Pursuing what we love is a process and therefore, success a journey. You are truly successful if you can tread your path, always growing, identifying opportunities and continually learning.
The seduction of success and power often makes us forget what is of true value in our lives. We need to recognise that we are more than our accomplishments. We are partners, parents, children and friends to significant people around us. We need to be fully present in these roles. Modern definitions of ‘success’ leave all these beautiful equations far behind. Many boast of their ability to compartmentalise and block out one aspect while dealing with the other.
True success is the ability to balance and fuse work, hobby, passion and family, such that you would not have to choose one over the other. And don’t forget, there is no better sanctuary than your loved ones. Having said that, understanding the difference between healthy striving and competing is crucial to success.
A significant number of ‘successful’ individuals shift their choices to pursue completely different paths at later stages of life. Why? Because at some point they realised that traditional meanings of success did not resonate with them. They were perhaps disillusioned when decades of hard work and competing brought them nothing more than material wealth. Peace and joy remain elusive for those who cannot match their triumphs to their passions.
There is no step-by-step guide to success. However, we can evaluate to some extent based on our approach towards a task. Are we approaching a certain activity because it makes us happy? Or is it with a sense of obligation, be it financial or societal? Or is it driven by fear of risks, of failure, of being a misfit?
Know your worth. Most of us are taught to be people-pleasers. Stop allowing society’s notions of success define you. Don’t let peer pressure hold you to ransom. Unlearn enforced definitions of success and find the courage to move ahead towards your passion.
Believe in yourself. The moment you acknowledge that what you know of yourself is truer than what you have been made to believe, is when you will let go of fear. Own your bad decisions and they will empower you. Remember that failing does not make you a loser. Letting it seize you and stop you from trying again is what gets you defeated.
The riskiest thing in life is not doing what you want and betting on finding time for it later. If you must chase, chase your dreams. If you must race, race against time to pursue all that you love. The best things in life have no reason or logic.
Contrary to new-age theories, love, beauty and kindness are not over-rated. Hope keeps the world going. Hold on to these, anywhere you can find it. And success will come along.